Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What now?

1,018,831 steps.  1,300 dollars.  We did it.    More than fifty people donated.  More than twenty walked with me.  And around a hundred or so promoted my personal campaign through social media.  678 treaders raised $52,329 for Love146 to continue the fight against child sex trafficking around the world.

To everyone who helped, thank you!

Tread on Trafficking is over, but the work continues.  I hope those of you who joined me in this fundraiser will not stop your efforts there.

While protecting children is at the top of my priority list, adults bound by forced labor are just as worthy of freedom.  Child sex trafficking is just part of the modern day slavery problem.  We must work to free all 27 million of the world's slaves.  Men, women and children.

Here are some of my suggestions to continue the fight for freedom:

  • Educate yourself about the problem.  I wrote a blog post in April that includes several links, books and resources offering information about modern-day slavery.  Since that post, the  Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons released its Trafficking in Persons Report for 2013. 

  • Consume wisely.  For many reasons, we would all do well to critically evaluate all we consume.  Do we really need those clothes or that gadget?  Should we make changes to our diet -- for our health, for the environment, to save food for our neighbors?  I could probably write a whole series of posts about our culture of consumption, but will stop with just those three sentences.  The focus here is not on the quantity we consume but the quality. 
We live in a time when we can be more informed than ever before about the products we consume.  We can ask questions about where something came from and get answers.  Ask those questions and strive not to contribute your finances to slave owners.

Free2Work did a survey of the apparel industry and graded them on  the practices in place to prevent and address forced labor in their supply chain.  I've looked at the report and checked out the stores with the highest grades.  I'll admit, some of them offer not much more than white cotton t-shirts for $30.  We need more than white shirts and not all of us can afford those prices.  (Though I encourage everyone to reflect on the reasons behind higher prices of fair-trade products.)

But not all were obscure speciality companies.  Hanesbrands received an "A" grade.   (Read their Corporate Social Responsibility Statement here.)  Beyond Hanes, this includes Champion, Bali, Playtex, Just My Size, Beefy-T, C9, Celebrity, J.E. Morgan, One Hanes Place, Rinbros and others.  I haven't heard of all of those, but I have heard of Hanes.  And in my experience, they offer a wide range of quality apparel at affordable prices.  I remember picking out things from the Hanes catalog as a child (and we were poor). 

Check out their website -- I'm sure they won't be able to meet every single one of your clothing needs, but you'll probably be surprised at their prices and selection.  (And no, I'm in no way getting a commission.  I've just always loved their products and love them even more after learning how fair they are.)

  • Watch for slavery.  One of the biggest lessons I've learned by studying modern day slavery is that it is all around us.  That sounds like some kind of overly-zealous scare tactic, but it is all across the world, including right here in America.  It's in your state and could even be in your neighborhood. 
This means we must be keenly aware of the people around us.  Trafficked people are in our service industries here in America.  Befriend your manicurist, hair stylist, housekeeper and maintenance worker as much as you can.  Most of these people are not being forced to do their job, but some are. 

I've also been more aware at airports, keeping my eye out for people who may be trafficked right in front of me.  If you do suspect trafficking or for more information on warning signs, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center .

  • Continue supporting abolition.  I personally felt an instant connection to Love146, but they are not the only agency fighting slavery.  I have also been quite impressed by Free the Slaves and have been looking for ways to become more involved in their agency.  They were co-founded by a prolific modern-day abolitionist, Kevin Bales, and work internationally to educate entire villages of slaves, empowering them to free themselves.  Isn't that beautiful?  Freeing multi-generation slaves through education and empowerment?  As little as $56,000 can fund the several-year work to free an entire village.  Their model is amazing to me.  I would love to one day organize a campaign to fund those efforts.  Or better yet -- support the Free a Village,  Build a Movement campaign YOU organize.

I feel compelled to talk about one crucial piece of abolition.  Many experts say this one thing would totally eliminate sex trafficking.  It would eliminate the root of the problem.  I have given this simple solution a separate post, linked here, with an adult content disclaimer.